Southern and East African hoteliers, boutique resort owners, adventure operators and suppliers across the full tourism operator spectrum are gearing up to attend Experience Africa in London for the first time since the pandemic.
Experience Africa organiser, African Travel and Tourism Association (ATTA) Executive Director, Chris Mears, said scores of tourism operators from across Southern and East Africa had booked their attendance at the trade show, which runs at the Kia Oval in London from June 22 to 24.
Experience Africa is a premier platform for uniting African suppliers with the most relevant, active buyers from the United Kingdom and Europe, all connecting in one place.
Mears said this year’s trade show was crucial for the region as it connected operators with key source markets.
“This year’s event is vitally important because after two years of not having any face-to-face contact it’s a wonderful opportunity for the trade to engage with what has traditionally been a number-one, key source market for East and Southern Africa.
“We have 121 confirmed exhibitors, which is over our original target. Currently, we have 220 confirmed buyers attending.”
Mears said exhibitors included large and small tour operators from the highest to the lower end of the market from South Africa, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Mozambique, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia and Botswana.
As the show operates on an appointment rather than a browsing basis, tour operators get to engage face to face with potential buyers who have prebooked their meetings.
“The event builds on the success of other recent events like the World Travel Market, ILTM and Africa’s Travel Indaba 2022, which was a huge success for us. This wraps up that series of events and signifies that the trade is ready to get back to business. We want to engage face to face because tourism is a face-to-face business,” Mears told Tourism Update.
Experience Africa was launched as an annual trade show in 2018 but the event was halted in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘Excited to get back to business’
Rudi Wagenaar, Founder of On-Demand Hospitality Solutions Inc, who is travelling to the show, said the tourism industry was excited to get back to business.
“Experience Africa is the first group of South Africans going to the UK to promote our destination in three years. These South Africans are investing their last pennies to make sure the Brits are aware that our destination is ready and welcoming,” he said.
“For every single person that comes to SA, there is an African hotelier on the other side waiting with open arms to rebuild our hospitality sectors and our lives.”
He added that many hotel employees were single mothers who were happy to be back at work to support their families.